Running backs Christian Estefani and Aladio Thompson give Raider fans alot to look forward to in the future.
Torrington: Raiders assistant coach Michael Ciesco was talking about junior Christian Estefani and his development this year before the start of the Torrington/Holy Cross game on Thursday night.
The Crusaders (6-2) came away with a 42-7 win in a game moved up a day because of bad weather predicted on Friday but something Ciesco said rang true, if just for a moment in the Raiders opening drive of the second half.
“Christian has improved a lot this year,” Ciesco said. “We have been working with him to follow his blockers inside more but when he gets a chance, he can also make things happen on the outside edge.”
Flash forward about and hour to the home teams opening drive, that started at their own 25-yard line.
Estefani gained nine yards on a play where he followed his blockers, setting up a second and one from the THS 34.
This time, the speedy sophomore who helped the Raiders 4 x 100 team set a new school record a season ago in track, bounced to the outside near the 40 and found the sideline where he was off to the races on a 65-yard run.
The only shocking thing about the play was that he was caught at the one-yard line on a diving Holy Cross defenders tackle.
Torrington would punch it in on the next play on a one-yard run by Aladio Thompson for their lone score of the game, but it set up a look at the future of THS running backs.
Having a two-headed back field with a speedster (Estefani) and a bruiser (Thompson) gives head coach Gaitan Rodriguez something to look forward to, not only over the two remaining games of the year (St Paul next Friday and Watertown on Thanksgiving Day) but for the next few years.
“What you get with Estefani,” Rodriguez said, “Is a lot of speed. He’s somebody who can bounce it out and can beat you to the corner. He’s also getting better at running between the tackles and finishing out runs. Aladio brings some forceful running very much like you saw from (Alessandro) Ward tonight. He has also been able to show some speed at times this year.”
Ward, a senior, ran for 160 yards on 17 carries and three rushing touchdowns for the visitors and was a force to reckon with when he got to the second level of the Raiders defense.
The Raiders have a pair of games left as they try and finish the 2018 campaign with a .500 record, but Rodriguez knows it won’t be as easy at it may look, if one looks at their records.
Watertown (1-6) picked up their first win in a 33-8 decision over Sacred Heart a week ago and take on Wilby (1-6) and Crosby (0-7) before the Thanksgiving Day matchup in Torrington on November 22.
St Paul (2-5) had a tough early season schedule that included match ups against Naugatuck League Valley elite when they lost to Seymour, Naugatuck, Ansonia and Wolcott.
The Raiders won just two games a year ago and while getting to that 5-5 mark would be nice, it’s no given, Torrington will need big games from their young running backs if they are to finish strong.